Business Times

Four mln dependants on Lanka Tourism in 9 years

By Sunimalee Dias

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is likely to have about 4 million dependants by 2020 should the sector perform to expectations, the industry states. Employment will be created for nearly one million people in Sri Lanka that will allow for atleast 4 million to become dependant on tourism, Tourist Hoteliers Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) President Aruna Lokuhetty told the Business Times.

This will result in 20% of the population of the country becoming dependant on Sri Lanka Tourism’s growth and performance. He noted that about two million will be dependant on the industry by 2016 as the requirement for number of the workforce is expected to reach 500, 000.

With this growing demand in mind the industry has signed up with the Vocational Training Authority in Sri Lanka in a bid to utilise its 200 training centres around the country for its staff training programmes.
Revenue projections are at approximately US$ 3 billion by 2016 and US$6 billion by 2020.

Mr. Lokuhetty pointed out that today the industry needs to create increased awareness among villages and school children of the growing demand and benefits of a prosperous tourism industry to the country and its people.

Tourism has become the largest investor contributing 10% of GNP and 7% of the total employment, he said. It is estimated that with the aim of realising the target of 2.5 million tourists by 2016 an additional 350, 000 will join the tourism industry.

The required training is necessary as Sri Lanka today in the post war era is no longer a cheap destination and has to offer more than a smile, Mr. Lokuhetty pointed out. He noted that while some Sri Lankan still believe they can still get away by smiling their way through the industry has understood that the workforce need to be trained and better equipped to deal with growing demand of tourists to be on par with their counterparts in competitive markets.Further, he pointed out that about 50, 000 are lack any educational qualification but continue to work in the industry through experience alone.

Plans are underway to assess these individuals and encourage professionalism among them in the future, he said. Wages of hotel staff are also considered good with the minimum at Rs.9000 with the additional service charge providing on average Rs.20,000 per month, Mr. Lokuhetty said.

He points out that they are also provided meals, accommodation when necessary and uniforms to work at the respective establishments.

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